100,000 Photos and Counting

Ed Lee
Aug 30, 2012

Japanese Tea Garden San Francisco (August 1999, Kodak DC210 Zoom camera, 0.3 MP)

Earlier this summer I captured my 100,000th digital photograph. In 1999 when I saved my first digital photo I would never had thought that over the next 13 years I would amass such a large collection of photos. Back in 1999, that number would have been almost unimaginable. To get to 100,000 film images would have required shooting about 2,800 — 4,200 rolls of 36 or 24 exposure film. At a cost of around $15 per roll for film and processing I would have spent $42,000 – $60,000 to accomplish this. These numbers are staggering.

What has digital really cost me? A truckload of AA alkaline batteries in the early days, stacks of CDs/DVDs, several external hard drives and some memory cards, which together is equivalent to just pennies per image. Experiences like this have led to the demise of many film and photo processing companies.

Preserving Memories

My rewards for shooting all these digital photos has been the joy of sharing them with friends and family and a chronicle of visual memories of each event which I hope to pass on to future generations. However, this hope will not become reality unless I proactively implement a preservation solution. Human error, mechanical breakdowns, and natural disasters like Hurricane Isaac which just passed through the Gulf Coast can erase a generation of memories in the blink of an eye.

Preserving these memories remains a constant concern for me. I have a plan in place, which includes a combination of local storage, external hard drives, cloud storage, and prints, but most consumers do not have a plan for organizing and preserving their photos so that they will be retrievable 50 to 75 years from now. InfoTrends research reveals that consumers consider about half of their photos to be “priceless,” so consumers place a value on a large portion of their photos and should be willing to invest in solutions or services that preserve them and make them easily available for future retrieval.

The imaging industry and retailers need to come together and develop educational campaigns, products, and services to show consumers what needs to be done to insure that their memories are available for years to come. Camera and smartphone vendors can help by offering connected cameras that automatically back up photos. Cloud service providers can assist with sync, organization, storage, and retrieval services. Print service providers can demonstrate that prints and photo books are perfect complements to electronic preservation solutions. Retailers can help by recommending to their customers which products and services provide the best solutions.

The longer it takes for the industry to come together the bigger the problem grows as consumers continue to take millions of new pictures each day, so waiting is not a good option.

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